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In what ways do small weddings differ from elopements?

If you recently got engaged and are starting to plan your wedding, you've probably seen a lot of material on intimate weddings and elopements because they are the "it" wedding trends of 2018.

A small wedding or an elopement? What's the difference? What sets them apart from one another, if anything?

This essay will compare and contrast the two, outlining the advantages of each and explaining how and why you can benefit from using either.

What Is The Definition Of An Elopement?

What Is The Difference Between An Intimate Wedding And An Elopement3

When a couple elopes, they break up their engagement in order to have a quick and private wedding.

Some couples will "elope" with close relatives such as parents, siblings, and brothers.

Some couples opt to have their photographer present to sign their marriage licence.

Even if there is no hard and fast rule, I think that one or two months should be allocated for elopements because of how last minute they tend to be planned.

Again, the true meaning is to "run off and get married," which implies haste and lack of forethought. It's not uncommon for couples to be married quickly and quietly on weekdays, especially Monday through Thursday.

The ceremony takes a few minutes, but the day's real highlight is the incredibly artistic photographic session that accompanies the couple and photographer as they create one-of-a-kind photographs in breathtaking locations.

By definition, elopement occurs when a couple is married in secret.

It's usually a spur-of-the-moment decision, there aren't any guests outside the bride and groom, and the attention is solely on the ceremony rather than things like a reception and cocktail hour.

A couple is allowed to elope wherever they please, regardless of social conventions, religious or legal requirements, or even the level of formal attire worn by either party.

Numerous factors can influence a couple's decision to elope. For example, some service members may have to move forward with their wedding date in order to leave on deployment.

These couples may choose to have a smaller, private ceremony before the deployment and a larger, more public one afterwards.

For some, though, the process of organising a wedding is so taxing that they begin to worry that the day will not turn out the way they had envisioned it.

The couple may choose to elope to put the focus back on what matters most to them on their wedding day.

However, there are many who have always envisioned a modest, intimate ceremony with just the two of them in a magnificent setting but have no interest in a big, lavish wedding.

What Is The Definition Of An Intimate Wedding?

A small wedding is just a wedding with fewer guests.

You reject the conventional banquet venue and boring chicken-and-potatoes dinner in favour of a smaller, more personal affair, inviting only a few dozen guests.

Intimate weddings tend to have more lavish spending on guests than larger ones since the couple can use the same budget to create a memorable experience for 20 people rather than spending $20,000 to host 120.

Nontraditional touches and a casual ambience are commonplace at small weddings.

In some cases, the bride and groom share a home and have their first look in the hallway while getting ready. There is no rule that says people have to sit in a certain way at the table for dinner.

All the intimate moments shared by the small group of guests are captured through a photojournalistic lens, alongside the breathtaking images, to create a visual story of the day.

Intimate weddings typically have a limited number of guests. The couple may choose to invite up to 25 people to their wedding.

The celebration that will follow the ceremony will be planned in the same way as it would be for a larger wedding but on a smaller scale.

The norms for behaviour at a large, formal wedding are in effect. In addition, there is the invitation and logistics process, the ceremony itself, and the next party.

Couples often opt for a smaller wedding in order to cut costs and to place more emphasis on "quality, not quantity" on their wedding day.

Some engaged couples are bent on having an intimate wedding with few guests.

Some couples would rather not have a lot of people around and spend the day celebrating with their closest friends and family. Thus they opt for a smaller wedding guest list.

Eloping Vs Wedding: The Differences


This is one of the primary deviations from the standard wedding ceremony that characterises elopements.

Whereas a traditional wedding might have anything from fifty to two hundred guests, an elopement is more likely to have twenty. A micro wedding often involves little more than 50 people.

When inviting more than 20 people to a wedding, it's important to consider a few practical considerations.

Guests, transportation, and activities will need to be planned, and the event location will need to be able to accommodate a large number of people.

Fewer than 20 people are invited to an elopement or none at all. This essentially grants you carte blanche to pursue your interests.

A beautiful mountain meadow is perfect for exchanging vows with your closest four friends and family members. In addition, no additional furniture or settings are needed. As a result, the expression reads more smoothly.

While each option has its advantages, the choice between eloping, a modest ceremony, and a more traditional wedding boils down to how many loved ones you want to be there to celebrate your union.

Planning Time

A traditional wedding will take more time and effort to organise than an intimate elopement.

Traditional weddings typically involve the couple preparing meals for a large number of guests, creating seating charts and timetables, and selecting the perfect entertainment, all of which may be unnecessary or drastically scaled back for an elopement.

Quick wedding ceremonies, such as elopements, can be planned in hours. Depending on the season, the location, and the number of guests, you may need less than 24 hours to plan your elopement.

Another option is to plan a year-long destination elopement. It's totally up to you.


To a large extent, an elopement can take place pretty much anywhere. Elopements can take place everywhere, from the top of a mountain to a picturesque beach.

Choose a spot that means something to the two of you, like where you went on your first date or your dream vacation.

To make your elopement day more exciting, you could plan to go somewhere you've never been.

You can have a private vow exchange with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop or get married on a Hawaiian beach without worrying about guests.

Planning a traditional wedding takes more time and effort. It would be helpful if you supplied guests with seats, entertainment, and decorations.

When it comes to the site, your options will be narrowed down to those that meet the needs of the event. In Search of a Wedding Photo Shooting Location? Don't bother looking elsewhere. Brighton Savoy has carefully curated the best options for wedding photography for your convenience.

A reception will likely follow the ceremony, so make sure the venue you choose can host both activities.


The price tag is one of the most noticeable variations between an elopement and a traditional wedding. It's possible that they'd be prohibitively expensive, with the average wedding costing over $33,000. An average of $150-$200 per person is suggested.

That encompasses the ambience, decor, meals, drinks, and activities.

A wedding is a great choice if you've always wanted an excuse to gather all your closest friends and family to honour your love for a special someone.

In the end, you're shelling out cash so you can enjoy the company of your loved ones during a joyous occasion.

However, elopement ceremonies are typically more affordable. Generally, one should expect to spend around $900 on a ceremony. Thus, you will have to interact with fewer institutions and individuals.

Do not let this detract from how much fun you will have at your party. However, elopements have the potential to be both private and stunningly beautiful. And then there's the after-party to consider.


There are often requirements placed on more expansive wedding locations. The same is true of sellers on occasion.

The hours that music can be played, the days of the week that weddings can be conducted, and the times that certain activities must take place are all examples of this.

It's not the worst idea, but eloping is probably your best bet if you want to be free to do anything you want during the day.

When you elope, you have complete freedom to do as you like.

As long as you're not trespassing or interfering with the natural environment, you're free to go wherever and whenever you like.

This is an option for customization. Therefore, whether you opt to hold your ceremony in a certain location or incorporate particular themes into your elopement, you have the freedom to make it uniquely yours.

Photographic Coverage

Most couples need two or three hours of coverage when planning an elopement. First, the ceremony is filmed, and a beautiful photo session follows.

Pictures of the bride and groom getting dressed and footage of the cocktail hour and reception are rarely seen during elopements. Period.

The photographer will need to put in two or three hours of work on the big day to capture the ceremony and portrait session and provide ample photographic evidence of their efforts.

In terms of photography, intimate weddings are identical to full-day "traditional" weddings.

Wedding day coverage often includes the couple's preparations, the ceremony, formal family pictures, and the reception team and venue.

A photographer can still spend 8, 10, or 12 hours documenting a small wedding day.

The number of attendees has no bearing on the effort required by the photographer or the price they charge for their services.

Therefore, the hourly rate is typically the same whether you have a little wedding or elope.

An hour is an hour, whether a photographer spends it photographing two people, twenty people, or two hundred people. They haven't stopped editing the numerous photographs taken thus far.

Let's say a photographer spends 12 hours covering a small, private wedding and the same amount of time covering a large, "traditional" wedding in a banquet hall. Since the photographer's time and commitment would be the same for both assignments, it's possible that both sets of customers would receive nearly similar images.

Eloping Vs Wedding: The Resembles

Planning Ahead

Conventional weddings and elopements both call for preparation.

A licensed officiant must perform both ceremonies, and a valid marriage licence is required.

In addition to the general information about marriage licences that may be found on our site, you may also want to contact the county clerk in your area for more specific details.

Elopements often take a few weeks to a few months to plan, though this time frame is flexible. On the other hand, it takes at least a few months, often up to a year or more, to plan a traditional wedding.

Family and Friends

What Is The Difference Between An Intimate Wedding And An Elopement2

No matter what you pick, those closest to you will want to be there to celebrate your special day.

You and your spouse-to-be can invite guests to your wedding and reception in person, or you can invite them electronically.

You might get their input on where to have the wedding and honeymoon, or you could send them customised elopement notices.

Whether hosting a party for a hundred guests or holding a small, private ceremony, there's always room for the people you love.

While having everyone you care about there for your wedding makes things easier, if you do decide to elope, you may still throw a celebration at your house for your loved ones.

FaceTime your family and friends while you take your vows, or share a video of the big day with them.


The greatest commonality between weddings and elopements is the love you share with your partner.

Whether you envision an elaborate ceremony with all of your loved ones in attendance or an intimate affair between you and your partner, your wedding should reflect your vision for the day.

And on that special day, you can't go wrong with any expression of affection you pick.

FAQs About Wedding

It doesn't matter if you get married in your backyard or at the county courthouse; the ceremony's location and the time of day are up for grabs when you elope. After the ceremony, there will be no time for reception because everything will immediately end. There is no cake cutting, serving food, or first dances at this wedding.

The Advantages

There are pros and cons to any option, but there are certain perks to elopements and small weddings that you may want to think about.


The day of your elopement is completely up for you to organise as you see fit.

To spend more time on what you're enjoying and maybe move on to the next thing more quickly when you're ready, you can adjust your schedule to some extent during the day.

Many couples who choose to elope to a location report feeling relaxed and at ease as they get ready for the big day because they don't have to worry about anybody else being in the room and distracting them. In contrast, they do their hair and makeup. This holds not just before the event but also as the bride and bridesmaids are getting dressed.

Some couples are able to enjoy a round of golf, a drive in the country, or a workout session to get their anxieties out because they no longer have to spend time entertaining friends and family.

The photographs taken at an elopement are of their greatest value to some extent.

When it's just the two of you, there's less pressure to hurry through taking photos. You'll have more time to take extended portraits or maybe a boudoir shoot when you're not rushed.

Since there won't be a set time for the dinner reception or the band to begin playing, you and your photographer can take as much time as you need to get some truly amazing shots of the two of you in the setting of your dreams.

You need not be concerned that your wedding celebration will be lacking in any way, shape, or form if you want to elope.

Many newlyweds who choose to elope have had a minor version of the traditional wedding cake that was equally delicious and beautiful.

A common tradition for eloping couples is to have a special candlelit meal prepared by Michelin-starred chefs and served in a magnificent setting, such as a castle's cosy fireplace or a fine dining establishment in a nearby city.

If you are concerned about being left out of the fun, having your party complete with music and dancing is not hard.

There are plenty of great venues and restaurants where you may have a traditional experience after the wedding.

In addition, the locals are likely to party with you until well after sunrise because it is such a momentous occasion.

Intimate Weddings.  

For the right couple, an intimate wedding is the best alternative, even if it costs more than eloping.

This is the perfect package for the couple that wants to celebrate their love with a small, intimate group of their closest friends and family.

Pre-wedding bonding activities like excursions, experiences, and sightseeing are perfect for destination weddings.

The days leading up to the wedding are filled with excitement and good vibes that can help make the big day truly remarkable.

Assume the same level of planning as a larger wedding but with the flexibility to add personal touches.

Customised menus that go beyond the standard "chicken or fish" are just one example of such fine-tuning. For example, instead of the standard votive candle holder and choice bar menus, guests of larger weddings will want higher quality options, speciality beverages, and thoughtful, personalised presents.

Smaller weddings allow for more personal participation from visitors. Use them to read aloud, light candles, or hold ceremonial items.

Involve your friends in fun by having them make their flower crowns as one of the day's activities if you're planning to make one yourself.

The morning before the wedding, help the boys relax and bond with a classic pre-wedding ritual: a traditional shave and an Irish coffee.

Since it's far less stressful to coordinate with a smaller group of people to have them all present for your wedding, you have a wide range of options to choose from.

You'll have more money for high-end details if you cut down on the number of people invited.

Many brides choose small, more personal weddings, so they may splurge on unique details like custom jewellery and decor for the ceremony and reception.

Instead of spending a tonne of money on a big wedding with lots of unnecessary extras, many couples would rather have a smaller, more intimate ceremony with only the people who truly mean to them.

The number one tip for planning a small wedding is to focus on the little things. Make the most of the possibility for customization and create a one-of-a-kind event that guests will remember long after the wedding.

Things To Consider

There are a few practical things to consider while deciding the best day for your wedding.

Photographers, for example, may have trouble reserving an entire Saturday to shoot an elopement since they would rather cover a larger wedding, which requires more time and money.

If you want to book your dream photographer without hassle, consider having your elopement during the week.

Vendors, such as photographers, will treat your little wedding just as professionally as a large one.

Since there won't be as many people to photograph, the "family portrait" portion of the day will go relatively quickly, allowing you more time to focus on capturing intimate, candid moments. A further justification for delving into the finer points of this wedding style!

Don't waste the provider's time by asking about "elopement coverage" or "elopement type packages" to get a better deal on your intimate wedding.

Elopement packages are not the same as a small wedding because they are tailored to the couple's specific needs. Need a photographer for your wedding in Melbourne? Don't bother looking elsewhere. Brighton Savoy has compiled the most extensive directory of Melbourne wedding photographers for your use.

To use the term "elopement" when planning and organising a modest wedding for more than just the two of you could cause some confusion. If you want your vendors to be there for you and give you their all, you need to be completely transparent with them about the kind of wedding you're having.

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